For those of you that have been following OWLT’s activities for a while you are aware that farmland preservation has been an important part of our efforts over the years. We’ve had some successes and failures over the years but we now have an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on new initiatives designed to protect farmland.
The Federal Farm Bill included new programs that provide funding for easements and innovative farmland practices. The state will also be setting new phosphorous limits that will likely lead to opportunities to fund farmland protection. In addition, the Metropolitan Sewerage District has developed a Working Soils initiative to protect productive farmland while introducing best management practices.
For this reason, OWLT is forming a Working Lands Committee to assist in overseeing a farmland preservation program. We see the committee taking on a few key roles that will help us with future projects including:
- Reviewing conservation easements on working lands and making recommendation to the OWLT board for approval. These would include easements through partnerships with others agencies or standalone easements between OWLT and landowners.
- Providing guidance on implementing best management practices on agricultural lands owned and/or operated by OWLT. This would include looking into different NRCS programs and determining what programs could best serve the soil and water conservation needs of our lands.
- Assisting with reviewing government programs and various initiatives that we can use to help protect farmland in the area.
- Assisting with landowner contacts.